Title: Mageborn (The Hollow King #1)
Author: Jessica Thorne
Pub. Date: February 18, 2020
A dark and addictive fantasy read for fans of Graceling and Sarah J. Maas. The life of an orphan soldier becomes entwined with that of the mysterious heir to the throne, whose very presence draws out the secret magic living inside her: a magic that breaks every law she is duty-bound to uphold…
The room is small and dark. Row upon row of jars line the shelves, each one sealed with blood-red wax. The seal’s mark is a twisted circle of briar with gleaming, gold-tipped thorns. And in each jar a flicker of forbidden magic dances… beautiful, but deadly.
Sold to the Crown in the aftermath of the Last Great War, Grace Marchant has never known her parents. Now, she trains as an elite soldier tracking down mageborn – those born with an ancient and long-outlawed magic – and destroying them if they don’t surrender their power to the Crown.
The mageborn who submit are collared, then handed over to the King’s cousin and heir: the elusive Bastien Larelwynn, Lord of Thorns, locked away in his shadowy workshop deep inside the castle. What becomes of them is hard to say – the Lord of Thorns keeps his secrets close.
Grace has always fought the voice inside her that questions whether the law is truly just – but when her closest friend is next on Bastien’s list, Grace’s loyalties are tested to the limit. Confronting Bastien – searching his strangely compelling obsidian-black eyes for answers – Grace is shocked to feel herself begin to change, to show the first signs of the wild magic she so fears.
Only the Lord of Thorns has the power to save her and the rest of the mageborn – if he doesn’t destroy them all first…
This will be a spoiler free review. Thank you NetGalley for providing a copy of this book to review, and thanks for bringing it to my attention! Otherwise I might have missed it completely.
Have you ever just picked up a book, and almost immediately know you’re going to absolutely love it, and be absolute trash for it?
Then you know exactly the feeling I’m talking about.
Because I am. Completely.
I was pretty much sold on this book, from this line alone:
“A dark and addictive fantasy read for fans of Graceling and Sarah J. Maas.”
But, honestly, I think a better comparison is to Elise Kova’s Air Awakens Series. I got major Vhalla and Aldrik vibes from Grace and Bastien.
Ugh, Grace and Bastien.
I love them.
Basically, if you’re a fan of Aelin + Rowan, Vhalla + Aldrik and Lou + Reid, you’ll really love Grace and Bastien. They all share very similar dynamics, but definitely the most comparable is Vhalla and Aldrik. Which, I’m totally okay with, because those books are some of my favorite fantasy books.
Anyways…god, I always digress in reviews. Back to Mageborn, the book you’re actually here to read about.
This was such a good, upper YA, borderline NA fantasy read. It should be on everyone’s radar.
I mean, the cover alone should make you want to buy it, because look at it – it’s stunning!
Y’all, my brain just went blank and all I can think about is how much I loved this book and how much I want to just scream at you all to read it. Reasons why I loved it – legit just flew out of my head in favor of taking a copy of this book and shoving it into your faces to read.
I think this stems from the fact that no one I know has read this book, so I have no one to talk to about it. It’s a problem.
Okay, let me see if I can form a cohesive thought that actually makes sense and will convince you to buy this book.
I’ll start with a selling point.
Jfc. I love him.
If you like big dark, moody royals, who are all tough guy on the outside, but legit a gooey puddle internally, you’ll love him.
If you like dark, moody royals, who are all tough guy to everyone else, paired with spitfire, take no shit, fierce heroine, who doesn’t put up with anything, you’ll love him.
You’ll also love Grace.
Their dynamic is very much –
Bastien – dark ‘prince’ (though, not a prince), who everyone fears, so he dons that cloak, because why not present as what everyone thinks.
Grace – bad ass, take no shit, soldier, who calls everyone on their crap, doesn’t put up with it, and sees through the facades that people hide behind (i.e. Bastien) and allows them to be themselves.
All while denying their feelings, and then in a moment of ‘weakness’ giving in, only to put walls back up and continue the stupid dance of pretending to not be into one another, because ‘I’m not good enough’ for the other person.
It’s great. They’re great. And if that’s your thing, you’ll be very happy with this book.
Oh, also, there’s a single bed scene.
Yep, you read that correctly.
It’s full of tension and kissing, so if that’s also a weakness…enjoy!
Have I convinced you to read this book yet? Please say yes.
From the start of this book, we’re taken on Grace’s journey as she tries to ignore the blankness of her past, and the ever-growing power inside of her. We follow her as she does her job, dutifully upholding the laws. Her job causes her to come in contact with Bastien, the Lord of Thorns, a supposed ‘monster’ and there’s instant attraction, because tall, dark and handsome is everyone’s type. Let’s be real.
Things get a little chaotic, a kingdom is on the line, and everything they do, could lead to the end of everything. Overall, it’s a very, very good read, easy to sink into and get lost in.
I’m pretty sure I mentioned it earlier in this review, but this is definitely an Upper YA novel, if not NA. It’s not overly graphic…or at least not my opinion on what I consider overly graphic, but sex is on the page. There are also some scenes that deal with potentially triggering topics (i.e. rape). I won’t go into too much detail, but no physical acts beyond drugging, are depicted.
I don’t think this book is any more graphic that a SJM book, or Elise Kova book, so if you’ve read either of those authors, you should be okay with this one/series.
I think my favorite thing about these less popular fantasy books – though, this one needs all of the hype, I’ll be screaming about it for days, be ready – is that they don’t feel tired. They feel fresh and easy to fall into. Like, I don’t know what I’m getting into when I open the book.
I didn’t see the reveal coming at the end of this book. Not at all. I would not have pegged this book for doing that.
Sure, it’s a take back the throne book, in a sense, but it doesn’t feel like it follows the typical YA fantasy trilogy format. I love it.
I think my only complaint about this book, was that it was a little slow. But even then, I don’t think it’s truly a complaint because I legit could not put it down. I read like 80% of it in one sitting yesterday. I’m pretty sure this book, where tons happened, is just setting up for the next one.
And speaking of the next one, I need it. I desperately need it! I need to know what happens next.
Slipping back to my statement about the end of the book, can someone who has read this book message me, because THOSE LAST FEW CHAPTERS?? Jfc, I thought I was going to die. I was so nervous and terrified and quite honestly upset with how those last few chapters went down.
I mean, they were SO GOOD, I just didn’t want it to [REDACTED FOR SPOILERS]. Sigh.
So, yeah, I need book 2.
I hope that in this jumble, mess of a review, I’ve managed to convince you to read this book. It’s out today, I’ve already ordered my copy, because I need a physical version in my life, so you can check it out whenever. I recommend this week, so you can bump it to the top of your reading list, so I can have someone to talk to about it. I’m going crazy, bottling up all my thoughts about this book. So, seriously, if you’ve read it (and if you made it this far in this very long review, sorry) please message me, dm me on twitter, and I will gladly chat.
Like I said, if you’re a fan of SJM, Air Awakens and Serpent & Dove you’re going to love this book. Out today, February 18, 2020, check out Mageborn! Everyone should be reading this book, so get to it!